I've been working up the courage to write this post for over a month now; it's been very difficult to piece together. I don't completely understand why though I know myself enough to tell you that I've been in hiding. When circumstances become difficult to manage or understand, I want to withdraw from the outside world. I want to curl up on my couch, read a book or watch a movie, talk very little on the phone and just be alone. It stings a bit to be honest like this because I don't like this about myself. I want to be strong (in Him)! I want to persevere valiantly (through Him)! I want to stand up to the fears, hurts, sadness that taunt me and laugh at it because I know He is much bigger than any of it. The knowledge is there (He is good and will take care of us) but physically and emotionally I am tempted to just shut off, disengage.
I disengaged and hid a lot when I was a child and teenager. My circumstances, my family's circumstances were sometimes too overwhelming for my little mind and spirit to handle. So, I'd determine what needed to be done in the moment, do it, and try not to feel the dread or fear or anger or sadness that rose up inside. It is truly a defense mechanism, learned when I was very young (probably around 3 or 4) and perfected by my late teens. I see it clearly in my little sister as well. She said something very poignant one night after dinner recently. My tears were streaming at the moment and I could tell she was much more than an observer this time; she was feeling some pain too. She tried so hard to blink away the stinging eyes and avoid crying altogether. I told her that there is nothing wrong with tears; they're not a sign of weakness as the world sees them, but rather they're a sign that you can feel and feel deeply. That is nothing to be ashamed of but rather something to embrace. Her response was something along the lines of shame - it's so hard to not believe crying is weak and if you cry, you're not in control.
Where did we learn this? Why is this our response? It's difficult to understand. I have cried more tears in these last eight years than I probably did in the 17 years before that and I have no shame to say so. "Something changed inside me broke wide open all spilled out, till I had no doubt that something changed", says Sara Groves. "Something so amazing in a heart so dark and dim, when a wall falls down and the light comes in." The Light came into this little girl's hardened heart and one of the results is tears.
Many tears have been shed in the last several months. Last September a little boy in my church finally succumbed to a long battle with cancer; his little body couldn't take it anymore. I had never met him but it felt like losing a family member because we had prayed for his healing for nearly two years. At the same time, many of us in the Church remembered the loss of a sweet baby girl, born into the arms of Jesus just two years earlier. Her family is still here in this world, longing for the time they'll see her again. The holidays approached quickly and many began to think of loved ones who had already passed away. November and December had many dark days for me as I thought about my Grandma not being in her big reclining chair on Christmas Eve. My church was shaken, but not toppled, when we heard our lead pastor suffered a seizure Thanksgiving morning in what has eventually lead to the the discovery of a brain tumor and brain cancer. We continue to pray for his complete healing amidst chemo and radiation that began just a week ago.
I'm not entirely sure how to wrap all of this up in a deep, meaningful way other than to point to the Lord. I'm asking Him to be Yahweh Rophe - the God who heals. My tears do not pour out because God has let me down. May it never be! The tears flow because I know He catches each one of them and He hears my cries, my deepest groanings when I cannot contain those emotions. There is a lot of deep hurt in this world, in this city, in each of us that we cannot fix ourselves. You know what I mean when I say that pain is unavoidable. Stop numbing your mind/body/heart to the hurts and wounds you feel; don't run away from them either. Instead, turn to Yahweh Rophe - the only One who can heal and in the process, give you true joy.